Bob Collis - photographer

Meet our Bracknell BID board members

We’re continuing to highlight our dedicated Bracknell BID Board directors, who give their time voluntarily and without payment to help govern and champion the work of our BID team.

Steering projects and planning so, they play such a huge part in the estate..

Meet Bob Collis

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Tell us about the company you work for

I am the chair of the Bracknell Forest Economic and Skills Development Partnership.  The Partnership aims to provide a coordinated voice and support and programme of initiatives for the Bracknell Forest local business community.  It is free to join, holding regular membership meetings and two major business events each year.  I have chaired the ESDP since retiring in 2016 from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL Ltd), the UK’s leading transport research institute based in Bracknell. 

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Tell us a little bit about your background/working career

I worked for over 40 years in the transport industry; working mainly on the transport planning aspects of highway and railway schemes ranging from major highways through to local traffic management projects and research into road and railway infrastructure. I started in local government and moved onto engineering consultancies, before spending 19 years at TRL. My senior roles included Directors of Highways, Infrastructure and Environment, sitting on the company’s Executive Leadership Team and Academy Board.  I was also an Executive Director of the Brussels based forum of European Research Laboratories and of TRL’s specialist asset management company. 

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How has your company adapted during COVID?

The ESDP has continued to operate throughout the Covid pandemic, holding its quarterly partnership meetings and business events.  It has recently reinstated its two working groups covering Infrastructure and Employment & Skills – Recovery and Renewal featured in the Autumn and Summer events.  The ESDP has also been supporting the Bracknell Forest BID in providing information to businesses on initiatives such as Kickstart and careers opportunities for young people.

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How are you planning to return / how have you returned?

The ESDP will continue to develop its 2021-2023 work programme over the next few months aimed at supporting Bracknell businesses by providing information on topics such as health and well-being and agile working.

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Any advice for other BID businesses around COVID that you can give based on your experiences?

Looking after the people that work for you, during such a difficult time in their working lives, is of great importance.  Recovery planning needs have the health and well-being of staff near the top of the agenda.

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Why are you a BID board director/why do you volunteer your time for the local business community?

As chair of the ESDP, I was involved at the beginning of the process of developing Bracknell’s first BID.  The ESDP was asked by the local authority to take on the idea of establishing the BID and to form a Steering Group which Maria agreed to chair.  Having championed the BID from its beginning and seen it through its different stages of development I am keen to help it through its initial years and to make sure it delivers its objectives.  Being a BID Director is the best way to make sure that happens.  I volunteer my time because I feel I would like to give something back to the business community and I also enjoy doing it.

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Why are you passionate about Bracknell BID area?

I have been involved with the BID from the start and want the BID to be a success.  Having worked in the Bracknell area for many years and chaired Bracknell’s ESDP I have grown to appreciate Bracknell uniqueness and the great work that businesses and the local authority are doing.  I want to see Bracknell Forest continue to be a great place for businesses to grow. 

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What skills and experience do you bring to the BID board?

I have always worked in project-based businesses and have been involved in, or been responsible for, hundreds of projects of different sizes.  This has made me very aware of the need for good project planning, financial management, reporting and delivery. I have also had a lot of involvement in customer communications and business marketing.  Hopefully, these skills are proving helpful to the Board, and especially the Projects Group which I chair.

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What difference do you hope the BID will have made in the next five years?

To have been successful the BID must make a positive difference to the area’s business viability, and many of its businesses must be able to see tangible benefits from their financial contribution to the BID company’s work.  The area must be so attractive for doing business that new businesses are desperate to get in and exiting businesses do not want to leave.  The people who work in the BID area must feel a sense of belonging to a special business community and the area must look and feel great.

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What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a keen photographer and belong to a local photography club, so spend a lot of time trying to improve my photography skills, which often means getting out and about.  I am also involved in the local environmental group, working on projects in nearby woodland, parks and meadows, and am a keen walker.

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What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

‘Keep your eye on the numbers’.  In other words, the financial reporting will tell you what is really happening.

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